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Current Affairs – 8 June 2021

Current Affairs (8th June 2021)

Performance Grading Index

Context:

  • The Education Ministry released the latest edition of the Performance Grading Index or PGI. This relatively new index measures the performance of states in school education.

How is PGI worked out?

  • It assesses states’ performance in school education based on data drawn from several sources, including the Unified District Information System for Education Plus, National Achievement Survey, and Mid-Day Meal.
  • States are scored on a total of 1,000 points across 70 parameters, which are grouped under five broad categories:
    1. access (eg. enrolment ratio, transition rate and retention rate);
    2. governance and management;
    3. infrastructure;
    4. equity (difference in performance between scheduled caste students and general category students) and
    5. learning outcomes (average score in mathematics, science, languages and social science).
  • States are graded and not ranked to discourage the practice of one improving only at the cost of others, “thereby casting a stigma of underperformance on the latter”.
  • According to the government, the objective is to help the states prioritise areas for intervention in school education.
  • The Education Ministry released the first PGI in 2019 for the reference year 2017-18.

Grading system:

  • The PGI grading system has 10 levels. Level 1 indicates top-notch performance and a score between 951 and 1,000 points.
  • Level II, also known as Grade 1++, indicates a score between 901 and 950. Those with Grade 1+ (or Level III) have scored between 851 and 900.
  • The lowest is Grade VII, and it means a score between 0 and 550 points.

Performance of states:

  • In PGI 2019-20, no state or Union Territory could achieve the highest grade, that is Level I.
  • Even in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 editions, no state had reached Level 1 and Grade 1++. Chandigarh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar and Kerala have scored more than 90% and obtained Grade 1++ (or Level II), which makes them the best performing states. This is the first time that any state has reached Level II.
  • The top-performing states of Gujarat, Chandigarh, and Kerala in 2018-19 were given Grade 1+ (or Level III), that is, a score between 851 and 900 points.
  • Only the UT of Ladakh has been placed in the lowest grade, that is Grade VII, but that is because it was the first time it was assessed after it was carved out of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.

How does their performance compare with that in the last two editions of PGI?

  • A total of 33 States and UTs have improved their total PGI score in 2019-20 as compared to 2018-19, indicating a general upward shift.
  • For some of the states/UTs, the reason for this improvement has been improvements in their data reporting mechanisms while for some others, the improvements have been in specific domains.
  • However, there are still 31 states and UTs placed in Level III (Grade 1) or lower, showing that they still have a lot of ground to cover.
  • The biggest improvement in PGI this year has been shown by Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Punjab, and Arunachal Pradesh. All three have improved their score by 20%.

Way ahead:

  • According to the report, states and UTs mainly need to improve their performance in terms of governance processes. This domain carries several parameters, including teacher availability, teachers training, regular inspection, and availability of finances.
  • In the domain Governance Processes, there are 24 States/UTs which have scored less than 288 (80% of the maximum possible score). It clearly implies that this is the area many States and UTs must focus upon.
  • The PGI too accords the highest importance to this Domain because compliance with the indicators here will lead to critical structural reforms in areas ranging from monitoring the attendance of teachers to ensuring a transparent recruitment of teachers and principals.
  • The second area that requires attention is the Domain for Infrastructure and facilities, where twenty States/UTs have scored less than 120 (80% of maximum possible score in this domain).
  • Two States, Bihar (81) and Meghalaya (87) recorded lowest scores in this domain. This is a cause for concern as a proper school building with adequate facilities is a must to improve the overall quality of school education.

 

E-100 pilot project

Context:

  • Recently, the Prime Minister has launched the E-100 pilot project in Pune to mark the World Environment Day 2021.
  • He also released the Report of the Expert Committee on Road Map for ethanol blending in India 2020-2025.

About the Project

  • It aims to set up a network for production and distribution of ethanol across the nation.
  • The government is also releasing the E-20 notification that will allow oil companies to sell 20 per cent ethanol blended petrol from 1st April, 2023 and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) specifications for ethanol blends E12 and E15.

Ethanol Sector in India:

  • India is targeting to have 20 per cent ethanol-blended fuel by 2025, in a push towards a robust biofuel policy.
  • The focus on ethanol is having a better impact on the environment as well as on the lives of farmers as it helps them earn more profits.
    • A large part of this eightfold increase in ethanol procurement has benefitted the sugarcane farmers of the country,
  • Most of the ethanol manufacturing units are mostly concentrated in 4-5 states where sugar production is high but now food grain-based distilleries are being established to expand this to the whole country.
  • Modern technology-based plants are also being set up in the country to make ethanol from agricultural waste.

 

State of India’s Environment Report 2021

Context:

  • Recently, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has released the State of India’s Environment Report 2021.

About:

  • CSE is a public interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi.
  • It researches into, lobbies for and communicates the urgency of development that is both sustainable and equitable.

Findings:

  • The report carries a special section on the state of the Indian states, particularly on their performance on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
    • No state was found to be on track to meet all the SDGs by 2030.
  • Only a decade away from meeting these globally committed development goals, India occupies 117th position among 192 countries on the progress list.
    • It shows that India’s rank has slipped by two places from 115th in 2020 on the 17 SDGs.
  • Reasons for Dropped Rank: India still lags behind on the SDG goals like ending hunger and achieving food security, achieving gender equality and building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation.
    • On India’s challenge of bringing safe water and sanitation to all citizens, the report offers a word of caution.
  • The overall SDG score of India is 61.9 out of 100.
  • India ranks below four South Asian countries (Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh).
  • State-wise Preparedness
    • KeralaHimachal Pradesh and Chandigarh have the best overall score and are on the path to achieving the SDGs in time.
    • Jharkhand and Bihar are the least prepared to meet the SDGs by 2030.
      • While Jharkhand lags in five of the SDGs, Bihar lags in seven.
  • It also highlighted that India ranked 168 out of 180 countries in terms of Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2021.
    • EPI is calculated on various indicators, including environmental health, climate, air pollution, sanitation and drinking water, ecosystem services, biodiversity, etc.
    • In the EPI 2020 report by Yale UniversityIndia ranked 148 in the category of biodiversity and habitat which assesses countries’ actions toward retaining natural ecosystems and protecting the full range of biodiversity within their borders.
      • India was 21 positions behind Pakistan.

 

Labour Codes

Context:

  • The Union government is keen on going ahead with the implementation of the four labour codes.

About:

  • These four labour codes will rationalise 44 Central labour laws.
  • Once the wages code comes into force, there will be significant changes in the way basic pay and the provident fund of employees are calculated.
  • It would result in a reduction in the take-home pay of employees and a higher provident fund liability for the companies.
    • This is because, under the new wages code, allowances are capped at 50%.
    • This means half of the gross pay of an employee would be basic wages.
    • Provident fund contribution is calculated as a percentage of the basic wage.
  • The Ministry had finalised the rules under the four codes. But these could not be implemented because many States were not in a position to notify rules under these codes in their jurisdiction.
  • Labour is on the Concurrent List of the Constitution and, therefore, both the Centre and the States have to notify rules under these four codes to make them the laws of the land in their respective jurisdictions.

 

Biomedical waste

Context:

  • There has been a huge pile-up of biomedical waste generated in the aftermath of the second wave of the pandemic.

About

  • The quantity of biomedical waste generated during the second wave at its peak is more than what was seen in the first wave.
  • The second wave saw more face shields, masks, PPE kits, disposable bed sheets, syringes, etc. Although the collection was relatively simpler.
  • This amount being generated is 4 to 5 times more than the normal scenario bio-medical waste generation.
  • Even the cost of disposal has increased to Rs. 58 per kilogram from Rs. 13 per kilogram.

Covid and its impact

  • The second wave has spread even to the rural areas unlike the first wave where spread was limited to major urban centres and/or metropolitan cities.
  • In addition to an approximately 25% increase in general waste due to work from home, there have been cases of masks and the like making their way into dry waste.
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